19 Books for Giving to Kids of All Ages

By Lela Nargi

Put off by the idea of giving the kids in your life a pack of toys they’ll only grow tired of by the time the new year hits? Then give them books—lots and lots of books. Here we get your list started with our picks for the brightest, most beautiful offerings of the season, for children of all ages. Happy reading!

Color Dog by Matthew Van Fleet & Brian Stanton. Finally, someone’s put adorable, freeloading puppies to work—helping tots learn their colors. This thick, colorful photo book has big, toddler-friendly tabs for puling to make tails wag and heads bobble, and foldouts galore, behind which a host of irritated cats would prefer to remain inconspicuous (ages 2+, $20).

Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley. Possibly the best gift of all for the sensitive kid on your list is the gift of self-confidence. The slim volume, enriched with vivid color block  illustrations, shows the toughest of men feeling sad, uncertain, and lonely and is certain reassurance that our feelings only make us more lovable (ages 3-5, $18).

The Mellops Go Spelunking by Tomi Ungerer. What could be more festive that a family of cave-hunting pigs?  This reissue of the classic learning/adventure tale follows father pig and his brood into Earth’s underworld, where they discover cave-pig paintings, stalactites and stalagmites, and the lair of perfume smugglers. Oink on! (ages 3-6, $15)

Classic Children’s Tales: 150 Years of Frederick Warne. The British children’s publisher Frederick Warne brought you, and your parents, and your parents’ parents, some of their favorite stories of all time, Beatrix Potter’s The Sly Old Cat not least among them. This compendium of six of their most famous offerings presents, too, their original, charming illustrations, along with introductions by contemporary children’s book authors and illustrators. A perfect read-aloud for the end of a holiday—or any—evening (ages 3-7, $25).

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin & Daniel Salmieri. This seriously ingenious little book within a book will have your kids manipulating its pages over and over to work its transformative trick. All the while, they’ll be reading a hilarious take on what happens when robots take over the world, and wishing upon any star that it will come true (ages 4-8, $19).

Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard Simon, Tanya Sin & Mark Siegel. In December of 1938, Christmas and the seventh night of Hanukkah converged, creating a super-charged atmosphere of love and giving for a boy who had already lost so much in his young life. New York City-dwelling kids especially will relish the opportunity to compare their city, then and now and to reflect on all the ways that we are the same (ages 4-8, $18).

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers. 

In this charming graphic novel for the kindergarten set, a young girl gets a box of her very own colored pencils for a present and is inspired to use them to write and illustrate her own book. There is plenty of fodder here for all sorts of creative kids to
get making, and with a vengeance—
especially if they received their own box of colored pencils, too, this holiday season…
hint, hint… (ages 5+, $13).

Whatever Happened to My Sister by Simon Ciraolo. The holidays mean lots of extra family time and no one understands the bittersweet twinge of this like a younger sibling. But just when all hope is lost for a return to happier, simpler times, the teen of the household swoops lovingly in on her little sister to show her that times may change, but family is forever (ages 5+, $18)


Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield & Michael Foreman. There’s a classicist in almost every family, and this terrific rendering of the Bard’s plays in story form brings 21 tales to light for a young, traditionalist audience that might otherwise be frustrated with language that can be a challenge at times, even for grownups. A far cry from a child’s version of Cliff’s Notes, the author weaves Shakespeare’s own words and tone into the fabric of his renderings, with familiar, and yet fresh, results. In fact, you might want to add it to your own bedside stack of must-reads (ages 5+, $25).

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers. While kids are unwrapping new toys and games galore, this book is a not-so-gentle but still sweet reminder for them to think fondly on all the possessions they once loved and cherished—before they carelessly discard a whole new season’s worth (ages 5-8, $19).

Lost in NYC by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio García Sánchez. New York kids love a book about their own hometown at least as much as aspiring kid visitors to the city do. It gives them a chance to test their own street savvy, and to see themselves in the landscape. This graphic novel, though, will also appeal to children who love buildings, children who
love maps, and children who love trains—which probably means pretty much every
kid you know (ages 8+, $17).

Historium by Jo Nelson & Richard Wilkinson. The internet may have rendered encyclopedias obsolete, but this amazing large-format illustrated series—the first was Animalium—is single-handedly showing kids of all ages the joys of knowing a little about a lot of strange and interconnected things. Got a kid who dreams of becoming an archaeologist? Then this book is the ultimate brain- and eye-candy for her (ages 8-12, $35).

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. A middle grade fairy tale that unfolds over a wild, snowy expanse of Russian wilderness as a young wolf rehabilitator named Feo struggles to save everything that she loves. This is the perfect story for curling up to on a cold winter’s night, and for dreaming of all that is possible in this world—and others (ages 8-12, $17).

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon. For the tween reader who loves a rousing adventure—and is still pleased to have accompanying illustrations to bolster the scenes he’s imagined in his mind. This book will add just a bit more magic to the holidays (ages 8-12, $18).

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. Graphic novels have become a popular means for conveying tales of tween drama, and this illustrated story about best friends drifting apart to find their own new and true selves is an apt example of how powerful the genre can be. Even if your own kid shakes her head at the notion of roller derby, Roller Girl will get her thinking about her own unique abilities (ages 8-12, $13).

The Toymaker’s Apprentice by Sherri L. Smith. For the ballet-obsessed on your list, this story is a retelling of E.T.A. Hoffman’s fairytale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” itself the inspiration for perennial season favorite performance, The Nutcracker. Only here, readers will be forced to contemplate the possibility of a strange, alternate fate: mice and squirrels taking over the world (ages 10+, $17).

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll with new illustrations by Anna Bond. Truth be told, text and illustrations go in and out of style. And 150 years after Lewis Carroll released his Alice, the classic story gets a fresh, modern, and most welcome update from illustrator Anna Bond, who also manages to give the protagonist and all her cohorts a sweetly innocent mien (ages 10+, $30).

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. If the holidays are about anything, they’re about family—the one we’re born to and sometimes, the more nurturing one we find in its stead. A wrenching, honest tale for teens who are prescient enough to understand that life’s miracles can be subtle and often, must be worked for rather than waited for (ages 12-17, $20).


The Absolutely Essential 60th Anniversary Edition of Eloise by Kay Thompson & Hilary Knight. Is this re-released book—enhanced with a historical scrapbook of the author
and friends—actually for kids? Or is it really for their grownups, who grew up admiring and aspiring to the reckless hi-jinx of Manhattan’s unruliest citizen? Likely it will fit the gift-giving bill for quite a number of folks on your list. Because Eloise, it seems, simply never goes out of style—and that’s just the way we like it (all ages, $20).

Perfect DIY Holiday Gifts for Kids to Give

molli-xmas copyTeach kids the joy of giving by helping them to choose or create thoughtful, personal DIY gifts for best buddies and loved ones in their lives.

They won’t have to save years of allowance and birthday money or toil away hours of their after-school time crafting to give these sweet gifts that capture the real meaning of the holiday season.

For more DIY holiday gift ideas, visit our Pinterest holiday board!

7 Handmade Holiday Gifts Ideas

Thumbprint String of Lights Canvas

An endearing gift of tiny thumbprints turned into a string of holiday lights make a lovely, homemade cardthough they are certainly worthy of a frameand simple enough for the tiniest of thumbs.

via Beneath the Rowan Tree
via Beneath the Rowan Tree

Photobook of Artwork

You know that pile of your child’s precious artwork that seems to multiply exponentially every time he empties his school bag? You may be able to whittle it down without guilt by creating a fantastic photo book of the one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Help your child pick favorites he created throughout the year and quickly and easily compile them into a Mixbook photo book worthy of coffee table space.

via Mixbook
via Mixbook


Cinnamon Applesauce Heart Ornaments

Grab a whole lot of cinnamon, some applesauce, ground cloves, a heart cookie cutter, string and a pair of little hands who are ready to dive in and do some kneading.  These adorable creations are fun to make, will have your home smelling divine, and will provide festive fragrance to their recipient’s tree for years to come. Remember–as good as they look and smell, they are not edible!

via Katy Elliot
via Katy Elliot

Personalized Coffee Mug

If you want to make a quick and easy gift that’s also heartfelt, check out these mugs personalized with a porcelain marker. The instructions provided by Crafts Tuts Plus show you how to transfer ready-made designs or create your own. They also provide free, printable templates for creating adorable monster images, but you can obviously create your own. Just remember that any design transferred with this technique will be mirrored, so you may want to have your little artist stick with pictures instead of text.

via Crafts Tuts Plus
via Crafts Tuts Plus


Canvas Silhouette Paintings

Full disclosure – this isn’t one for the kids to create, but it sure is sweet for them to give to an adoring grandparent or special loved one. The DIY is on you, but it’s fairly simple. You’ll need a canvas, acrylic paints, foam brush or roller, and a vinyl sheet. Essentially, you will take a photo of your child’s profile, print it on regular paper and then on the vinyl sheet, which will stick to the canvas. Once secured, you can paint the area around the silhouette and cleanly peel over the vinyl. Eye-popping and personal without being too traditional.

Silhouettes by Honest to Nod
Silhouettes by Honest to Nod


Giving to Those Who Need it the Most

Give the gift of changing the world. Kids can either choose to give to a cause in need or send a gift card that allows someone else to support a cause near and dear to their own heart. GlobalGiving Gift Cards allows the recipient to choose a project that they would like to support – choosing by location or theme, for example – and watch how the money is put to work through regular updates from the field. Causes include many that are relatable even to young children. What better gift than to show children that each of us can make a difference?

via GlobalGiving
via GlobalGiving

If you’re hoping one of these heart-warming gifts ends up with your name on it, leave some craft supplies and instructions for the sitter to tackle with your kids.

UrbanSitter.com has plenty of babysitters ready and willing to jump on some DIY time with the kids!

Holiday Gift Guides for the Children, Nannies and Babysitters on Your List

Photo by monettenriquez

Get a head start on your holiday shopping by checking out two brand new UrbanSitter Pinterest boards.

We’ve created awesome holiday gift boards to help guide you to the right present for your kids or other little ones on your holiday list, and we don’t want you to forget your nanny or the super babysitters you depend on throughout the year, so we’ve created a gift board for them, too!

Here are just a few suggestions to get you started on your holiday shopping:

Holiday Gifts for Nannies and Sitters – Pinterest Board

Most nannies and babysitters will agree that a cash bonus is the best holiday gift, but it’s always nice to accompany it with a personal gift to show you think of them as more than just a household employee.  How about one of these?

Mujjo Touchscreen Gloves are ingenious. Their conductivity and texture allow you to use any touchscreen device without taking your gloves off, which means you can text or map out your destination without getting frost-bitten hands.  They come in five colors. You can’t go wrong with black.

Kelly Wearstler Cabochon stud earrings are not only gorgeous and incredibly thoughtful to give. They are also sure to appeal to any taste or personal style. You can’t miss with either the Hemmatite or Howlite natural stone insets.

West Elm Favorite Throws are super soft and offered in an array of beautiful colors. They are just right when you want to give a little something to show your gratitude.  And just the right price at their currently reduced price of $23.

How about a little something for your child to give his nanny or favorite sitter? We’ve got the perfect find. This gold heart key chain from JCrew will melt her heart every time she grabs for her keys.

If she’s worthy of a splurge, why not give a road warrior urbanite a snazzy new bike helmet like this Furono Leopard Bike Helmet from Cloak & Dagger? It’s just the thing to jazz up her daily commute to your place.

Holiday Gifts for Babies and Kids – Pinterest Board

Here are five cool finds that are sure to please boys and girls in each age range on your list.

The Bloom Coco Lounger is a gift parents will appreciate and baby will enjoy. It calms fussy babies with a gentle rocking motion and looks uber cool in the living room.

You won’t wince when you see Baby chewing on these adorable rattles. Yellow Label Kids products are hand-knit from organic bamboo yarn and are made by artisans who are paid fair living wages as set forth by the Fair Trade Federation. And, they are oh so cute and have a soft bird song rattle.

Think of your toddler’s eyes popping open in wonder when she opens her very own personalized board book featuring photos of Mommy and Daddy, the family pet, and a favorite toy or blanket. This impressive gift is totally DIY and sure to become a cherished favorite. Click here for a tutorial from the blogger who created it.

The LeapFrog LeadPad is a big hit with kids age 4 to 7. It’s entertaining and educational and a bit easier on your wallet than going the IPad route.  Think of how nice it will be when you don’t have to hand over your smart phone to keep him busy in the waiting room.

Do you know a Big Girl who is all about glitz and glamour and would love nothing more than to get her ears pierced and sport some flashy studs?  You can hold off on the pierced ears a few more years thanks to Poppy Drop Earrings. They work like temporary tattoos, which means she won’t lose them and can easily change them to match her outfit. Choose from a handful of collections, which include flowers, peace signs and cute little bugs.

Did you get some good ideas? Watch for our next post for some great fodder for building your own Mommy Wish List to whisper into Santa’s ear!

UrbanSitter has not been paid to feature any of the products shown above. These are personal favorites of the editors of the UrbanSitter blog and do not reflect endorsement by UrbanSitter, Inc.